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Engineering the difference

Posted by 4MAT Administrator
Posting date:12/14/2020 12:14 PM
The role and importance of engineers in society isn’t always understood or appreciated. Yet engineers are always there, working in the background to make sure our infrastructure works and is fit for the future – from the places we call home to the built environment that surrounds us. Assistant Civil Engineer Rose Whitfield talks about how the difference engineers can make has inspired her and can inspire others into a career in construction. 

What is your role at the moment and what does it entail?

I am a Graduate Civil Engineer in the Design & Advanced Technology practice. My current role is Assistant Project Manager for the EDAROTH project. This is a very exciting project which uses modern methods of construction to manufacture and build social housing schemes to help tackle the housing crisis the UK is currently facing. My role involves managing the design of the housing product, and assisting in keeping track of progress, spend and resource to ensure we meet our deadlines. 

Was there a definitive moment that steered you towards a career in infrastructure? 

When I was 16, I did work experience at Atkins working in the masterplanning department, and I was able to work on a bid for a Sports City in Saudi Arabia. I was blown away by the complexity of the project and watching how engineers, architects and masterplanners work together on large infrastructure projects. 

Why do you think it’s important to work and learn about infrastructure? 

Engineering and understanding how to design build and maintain the built environment is important because quite simply, modern society wouldn’t exist without it. Now is also the time for action on climate change and civil engineers are uniquely placed to help address this issue.   

Who has inspired you in your studies and starting your career?

During my studies I had a lecturer at University who constantly challenged the way we thought as engineers and made us think outside the box in order to create exciting and innovative schemes. He encouraged us to work closely with other engineering and architectural disciplines to get the most from collaborative working and come up with creative solutions to engineering problems.

What are you finding the most interesting; challenging; rewarding so far?

I am constantly learning new things. No one day is the same in this industry, and no matter where your particular interests lie, there is a role and project out there for you. Being an engineer means that you are constantly solving problems, which makes the job so rewarding. You have the ability to work on projects which improve the way people live their lives. This is truly the most rewarding thing about being an engineer – being able to see what you work on, get built!

Do you think people know enough about infrastructure’s role in society? 

I think there is more work to be done in educating people on the work that engineers do, particularly at school level. There are so many different types of engineering and career choices within the construction industry; I feel they aren’t always fully understood. 

How do you think we can educate and encourage younger generations about this work? What methods do you think work best? 

Practical activities are often the most successful in terms of engagement and learning. I have worked in schools with children across many age ranges and found that fun, practical activities that are designed to get students to be creative, come up with solutions to a problem, plan their work and build something they can test, is a really successful and positive way to develop learning in a certain area. 

What do you personally say to younger people interested in engineering? 

I say go for it! If you are a creative person, who is interested in why and how things work and you want to make a positive difference in the world, then a career in STEM is for you. Do your research and try and get as much work experience in different sectors and organisations as you can to see what opportunities are out there and help focus your career and education decisions.

How do you feel about being a part of future-focused work?

I am very proud to be part of an industry which is constantly adapting to change and looking at how we can continuously improve the way we do things. Covid-19 is an example where the construction industry had to think fast at how it could continue to work effectively in a virtual environment, keep projects going and maintain delivery to our clients. I am excited to be part of that challenge and use technology and our digital transformation programmes to help build a better and more efficient way of work for the construction industry.  

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